IFJ Condemns Harassment of Editor in Kuwait: “Press Has Fundamental Right to Debate Media Policy”

The International Federation of Journalists expressed today serious concern over the situation of press freedom and violation of journalists’ rights in Kuwait following the harassment imposed on Mohammed al-Jassem, journalist and Editor in Chief of “al-Watan” newspaper, by authorities.

Multiple sources report that at the beginning of June the Kuwaiti government filed an official complaint against al-Jassem, as a result of which the editor was summoned to appear in front of the Public Prosecutor, interrogated and released on bail after payment of a considerable sum.

Mohammed al-Jassem, who has been openly opposing the proposal to amend, in a restrictive sense, the current press law and has expressed views on some candidates to the upcoming Parliamentary elections, was accused of “objecting to the rights and power of the Amir publicly”. For this crime, according to Article 25 of Kuwaiti penal code of 1970, “a person shall be penalized by incarceration for a period not exceeding five years”.

“This prosecution is an outrageous assault on press rights,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Media have a fundamental right to debate plans for news laws, particularly when they concern the work of journalists and people’s right to free expression.”

The IFJ is calling upon the Kuwaiti authorities to withdraw all charges against Mohammed al-Jassem and to provide for a legal framework which ensures that journalists can exercise their right to report freely without any penal repercussions.